They walk among us, unseen by polite society. They seem ordinary enough on the outside but they hide a dark secret – sitting beside their keyboards are trackballs instead of mice. We know, it’s hard to believe, but that’s the wacky world we live in these days.
But we here at Hackaday don’t judge based on alternate input lifestyles, and we quite like this billiard ball trackball mouse. A trackball aficionado, [Adam Haile] spotted a billiard ball trackball in a movie and couldn’t resist the urge to make one of his own, but better. He was hoping for a drop-in solution using an off-the-shelf trackball, but alas, finding one with the needed features that fit a standard American 2-1/4″ (57.3 mm) billiard ball. Besides, he’s in the thumb control camp, and most trackballs that even come close to fitting a billiard ball are designed to be fiddled with the fingers.
So he started from the ground up – almost. A 1980s arcade-style trackball – think Centipede or Missile Command – made reinventing the trackball mechanism unnecessary, and was already billiard ball compatible. [Adam] 3D-printed a case that perfectly fit his hand, with the ball right under his thumb and arcade buttons poised directly below his fingers. A palm swell rises up to position the hand naturally and give it support. The case, which contains a Teensy to translate the encoder signals into USB commands, is a bit on the large side, but that’s to be expected for a trackball.
Still curious about how the other half lives? We’ve got plenty of trackball hacks for you, from the military to the game controller embedded to the strangely organic looking.
Musicians have an array of electronic tools at their disposal to help make music these days. Some of these are instruments in and of themselves, and [Wai Lun] — inspired by the likes of Choke and Shawn Wasabi — built himself a midi fighter
Midi fighters are programmable instruments where each button can be either a note, sound byte, effect, or anything else which can be triggered by a button. [Lun]’s is controlled by an ATmega32u4 running Arduino libraries — flashed to be recognized as a Leonardo — and is compatible with a number of music production programs. He opted for anodized aluminum PCBs to eliminate flex when plugging away and give the device a more refined look. Check it out in action after the break!
Continue reading “Push Buttons, Create Music With A MIDI Fighter”
When every month brings out a fresh console blockbuster game that breaks new boundaries of cinematic immersion in its gameplay, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the simplest of game interfaces can be rewarding.
“Hele Norges Knapp” (“All of Norway’s Button”), is a good example. As you might expect, it’s a button, a large arcade-style one, and the gameplay is simple. Press the button as many times as you can in 30 seconds. It’s a project from Norwegian Creations, and it was produced as a promotion that toured the country for one of Norway’s debit card payment systems.
The blog post and video is frustratingly light on hardware or software details, and their is nothing about it in their GitHub presence. But they tell us that at its heart is a Teensy 3.2 with an audio board, driving the big 7-segment displays for the scoreboard and the WS2801 LED lighting.
The button itself is Adafruit’s 100mm Massive Arcade Button, and given that it was pressed over a million times by eager Norwegians it would seem this project has proved its robustness.
The video below the break has details of construction and of the game in action, and there is another far more corporate promotional video on Facebook featuring a host of Bright Young People honing their button action in a sun-kissed Norway that looks almost tropical. The game itself does look as though it could be an amusing diversion in the same vein as those fairground strength tests.
Continue reading “Arcade Button Pressing Game”
The goal is simple: test a bunch of arcade buttons from different manufacturers to get the one with the best function and feel. The resulting build is anything but simple: this wonderfully over-designed 16-channel WAV sampler and mixer.
For those wondering why [Atarity] would go to this much trouble to test arcade buttons, we suspect an ulterior motive – skip to the 21:14 mark of the long video below to see the real design inspiration. Regardless of the motive, there’s no doubting the care that went into the build – CNC-milled birch case, extremely detailed laser-engraved graphics, and a carbon-fiber back plate covered with suede, because suede. We especially like the detail on the speaker grill: the embroidered fabric and puffed-up look really works with the rest of the design, including the leather hand strap.
It’s not entirely clear from the post what the end goal of the testing is, but we assume it’ll be some sort of MAME build. In which case, [Atarity] might want to check out our recent articles on a tabletop MAME cabinet or this portable MAME rig. But whatever he comes up with, we’re sure the craftsmanship will be there.
Continue reading “16-channel Sampler Tests Arcade Buttons with Style”
Most DJ tools are just ripe for DIY rework. Everything at least speaks MIDI, and the firmware side of the equation that makes a physical interface for your laptop can be downloaded and flashed with minimal effort. And this means that there’s no time better than the present to wire up a ton of buttons to a Teensy and call it a controller.
[UmamiFish]’s build goes the extra mile, though, with a nice laser-cut box and holes for display LEDs as well as the 22 arcade buttons that are packed tightly into the enclosure. A 74HC595 shift-register IC handles the LEDs, but there’s no getting around a bunch of wiring in a build like this. It pays to be neat, and using ribbon cable helps keep some of the chaos under control.
Browsing around Instructables will turn up myriad similar controllers, should the exact configuration of this one not suit your needs. And if you want something with a little more of the real-disk feel, have a look at this controller that uses hard disk platters, or this log of a timecode-vinyl-to-MIDI build.
Let’s start off with some high voltage. Here’s a sweet Jacob’s Ladder build from [Robert]. The site hosting his short writeup has been up and down for us so here’s a cache link.
Speaking of high voltage, if you want to switch mains with your project [Tom] has a breakout board for cheap mechanical relays. [via Dangerous Prototypes]
[Dario] made his own version of an electronic Advent calendar [translated]. There are no numbers, you must solve the mystery of the flashing LEDs to figure out which package goes with each day.
If you ever work with lighted arcade buttons here’s a guide for swapping out the light for an RGB LED. This hack uses through-hole LEDs. We’ve actually seen a surface mount hack that includes a PCB to mimic the old bulbs.
Next time you stay overnight at an event you can give yourself the best view in the campground. This tiny little camper was mounted on a scissor lift! That first step on the way to the Porta Potty is a doozy! [via Adafruit]
[Žiga] was nice enough to demonstrate this smart-watch hack by displaying our name and logo (we love pandering!). It features the MSP-WDS430 which is a surprisingly stylish offering from Texas Instruments. In addition to analog clock hands it has an OLED display driven by the MSP430 inside.
Here’s a quick PIC-based metal detector which [Nicholas] built.
And finally, [Chet] saw the oil tank level sensor we featured this week. He built a nearly identical system earlier this year. The oil level sensor works in conjunction with the custom thermostat he built around an Android tablet.
There are plenty of Raspberry Pi arcade builds out there, but rarely do we come across something as sleek as [Jochen Zurborg’s] RasPi Arcade Stick. The build combines everything you’d expect from other RasPi arcade projects, but manages to pack everything into the form factor of a portable stick modeled on the Neo Geo 4’s button layout. It may not be as small as the tiny MAME cabinet from last year, but it definitely delivers a more authentic arcade experience.
[Jochen] had previously developed an add-on PCB for the Pi called the PiJamma, which simplifies connections from the RasPi’s GPIOs by providing a JAMMA interface for the controller(s). The Pi and the PiJamma sit inside a custom-made acrylic enclosure and hook up to the buttons and joystick above. Rather than try to fit the Pi directly against a side panel for access to the various outputs, [Jochen] rerouted the USB, HDMI, and headphone jacks and arranged them into a tidy row on the back side of the box. The top piece of the enclosure consists of a sheet of aluminum wrapped in custom artwork, with an additional sheet of acrylic on top for protection. [Jochen] also modified each of the arcade buttons to include LEDs that illuminate the buttons’ acrylic holder, and the case itself appears to have been cut into slats on each side to provide better ventilation.
Check out his project blog for further details and for a huge gallery of progress photos, then see a quick video of the RasPi Arcade Stick after the break.
Continue reading “A Raspberry Pi Arcade Stick”